Briton Geraint Thomas, later inducted at the head of Team Sky, took control of Paris-Nice at the end of the 4th stage Wednesday at Belleville removed by Dutchman Tom Jelte Slagter.
Mont Brouilly, the hill 486 meters high, which overhangs the Beaujolais vineyards, issued the first verdict of the week for the general classification. It turned out favorably again to the British band who won the last two editions of the “race to the sun” (Bradley Wiggins in 2012, Richie Porte in 2013).
No other favorite could not follow Thomas, left for a few hundred meters from the summit of Mont Brouilly in pursuit of Slagter which started a few minutes earlier. Welsh joined the Dutch in the downhill and the duo went away until the finish, a dozen miles away.
Behind them, the prosecution, disorganized despite desperate attempts of the young French Romain Bardet and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali, failed to erase the gap of twenty seconds. On the line, Slagter and Thomas have preserved an advantage 5 seconds on the Dutch Wilco Kelderman party against attack under the red flame of the last mile, and the first chase group.
The wearer of the yellow jersey, the German John Degenkolb, managed to limit losses to 18 seconds. But he had to give his well-to-three seconds to Thomas but expects it to him Thursday as long as German is required to Rive-de-Gier (Loire). Before, perhaps, to retrieve more selective way.
Apart Thomas and Slagter, major beneficiaries of the day, step left the podium contenders next Sunday in Nice, at the same time. One of them, Sylvain Chavanel, lost big on the sunny slopes of Mont Brouilly, a coast 3 km tournicotant in vineyards. Upon arrival, the French disbursements amounted to 57 seconds.
“I am disappointed but not killed,” acknowledged adding Chavanel want to turn now to the stage success “. I have no choice,” For in a race that plays seconds or the bonuses ( 10, 6 and 4 seconds for the first three steps), an above-minute delay is equivalent to a conviction.
Slagter, ambush (3rd), was replaced just four seconds of the yellow jersey. Surprisingly, the Dutch 24 years spent in the offseason Belkin to the U.S. team Garmin, there were from Paris-Nice race one day.
The presence of Slagter and Thomas at the front caused a reaction, a bit sarcastic, Jonathan Vaughters, the Garmin boss. “Not bad for two riders team ‘B’. Hein, ASO?” Has he tweeted against organizers who had protested against the late fee of defending champion (Gate), sent to the front of Tirreno-Adriatico by his team to supplement the British Chris Froome.
Thursday, the 5th stage, 153 km long between Creches-sur-Saone and Rive-de-Gier, offers a final rugged coast with Saine-Catherine a dozen kilometers from the finish.